LAS VEGAS – Marcos Maidana came to the final press conference for his welterweight title match against Floyd Mayweather dressed in a tuxedo. He looked like he was either the groom at a wedding or he was going to the prom.
Perhaps the formal wear was appropriate, considering his date with Mayweather at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night will be the most significant yet in his professional boxing career.
When it was his time to speak to the assembled media inside the Hollywood Theater at the MGM Grand on Wednesday afternoon the words that came out of Maidana’s mouth didn’t really match his classy attire.
“Mayweather is a great fighter, but I don't give a (expletive) about this guy,’’ Maidana said.
Maidana should save some of that fire for fight night. He’s going to need it, because a large Showtime Pay Per View audience will tune in expecting to see pyrotechnics. Forty five men have entered the ring against Mayweather and none of them have walked away with a victory. It is an amazing run, considering Mayweather has won world titles at 130, 135, 140, 147, and 154 pounds and has faced some of the best boxers in those divisions.
There isn’t anything flashy about what Maidana does in the ring. He is a rugged slugger who likes to smother his opponents and whack them until they crumble. He earned the Mayweather sweepstakes by bludgeoning Adrien Broner, who fancied himself the next Mayweather. But Maidana exposed him as more style than substance. Mayweather is the genuine article.
"Maidana is a puncher and a strong fighter, but Floyd is faster and has more knowledge,’’ said Floyd Mayweather, Sr., who is back training his son. “I saw Maidana against Broner and, to me, he was very predictable. But Broner did not know what to do.’’
Maidana is an 11.5-to-1 underdog to Mayweather, which is understandable because his resume is light on world class caliber opponents with Mayweather’s skill set. Maidana hasn’t faced anyone like him in his career. Maidana’s biggest weapon he brings to the fight is his power. He has an 81.6% knockout rate, but much of that is against inferior opposition and certainly not on the level of Mayweather. He is going to have to land three or four successive power shots to knockout Mayweather.
But he believes he can do it.
"It's truly very, very difficult to land a punch against Floyd, but when I land and hurt him I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm going to go out and finish him,’’ Maidana said. "I think I have a chance to knock him out. I hit hard enough to knock him out. Mayweather doesn't throw many punches. He throws three punches, very accurate ones, but I'm going to throw punches the whole fight. I'm going to throw punches every minute of the fight."
Amir Khan, who is fighting Luis Collazo in the co-feature of the card, defeated Maidana via decision in 2010. Khan dropped Maidana with a body shot in the first round. Khan has speed similar to Mayweather’s and he was able to avoid many of Maidana’s heavier shots.
“It will be a good fight. Both fighters are great,’’ Khan said. “I think Mayweather will be quicker. He’ll hit and won’t be involved in exchanging with him. I think he’ll give Maidana a boxing lesson. I think Mayweather will win the fight convincingly.’’
Maidana drew praise for his boxing skills against Broner. Many thought his ability to cut off the ring against Broner was the key to his being able to apply continuous pressure and impose his will. They point to his working with trainer Robert Garcia for the first time before that fight as the main reason for the change.
Kevin Cunningham, the trainer for Devon Alexander, doesn’t think Maidana has changed much since Alexander handed him a lopsided 10-round loss in 2012. To his credit Maidana has gone 4-0 since that loss.
“He’s the same fighter that fought Devon,’’ Cunningham said. “Who has he fought except Broner who has any boxing ability - Josesito Lopez and Soto Karrass? Those guys don’t have boxing skill. Maidana is lucky that Broner fought the wrong fight.
“Broner took the fight to Maidana which was absolutely the wrong thing to do. Broner had been walking guys down in the lower weight classes. But he couldn’t do that against a real welterweight. His punches had no affect there.
It wasn’t what Maidana did. It was about what Broner didn’t do.’’
Here is how Cunningham sees the fight playing out:
“Mayweather is so smart. Mayweather is going to have him so confused. Devon was on the way to stopping him. Maidana was really ready to get out of there. When Floyd senses that he’s ready to get out of there he’s going to get him out of there. I think eighth or ninth round he’s going to get potshot and counter punched and Floyd is going to start digging into the body. He’s either going to quit or Floyd is going to knock him out and stop him.’’
Maidana is hoping that he can flip that script. But he shouldn’t count on it. Forty five other guys before him thought the same thing.